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“Learning to Fly” by Pink Floyd, released in 1987 as part of their album “A Momentary Lapse of Reason,” stands as a testament to the band’s resilience and adaptation following the departure of Roger Waters. The song’s genesis lies in the collaborative efforts of the remaining members – David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright.
The composition of “Learning to Fly” began with Gilmour experimenting with various guitar sounds and chord progressions. The lyrics, penned by Gilmour, reflect themes of self-discovery and perseverance, mirroring the band’s journey into uncharted territories without Waters. The title itself is symbolic, capturing the essence of the band learning to soar creatively and personally.
A pivotal element of the song, especially for drum enthusiasts, is Nick Mason’s distinctive drumming. Mason’s rhythmic finesse complements the track’s ethereal ambiance. His drumming skillfully intertwines with Gilmour’s guitar work and provides a solid foundation for the song’s atmospheric journey. The percussion work serves as a backbone, subtly guiding listeners through the introspective lyrics.
The recording of “Learning to Fly” took place at Astoria, Gilmour’s home studio on the River Thames, and Britannia Row Studios. This decentralized approach to recording marked a departure from the band’s earlier collaborative efforts. The use of digital technology, including drum machines and synthesizers, reflected Pink Floyd’s embrace of evolving musical landscapes.
When it came to live performances, “Learning to Fly” became a staple in Pink Floyd’s setlists during their “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” tour, which spanned from 1987 to 1989. The song found itself nestled among iconic Pink Floyd classics, seamlessly transitioning into the new era of the band. Mason’s live drumming added a dynamic layer to the song, showcasing his adaptability and precision on stage.
Fans of the drums in “Learning to Fly” often appreciate Mason’s ability to balance subtlety and complexity. The drumming serves as a rhythmic heartbeat, guiding the audience through the emotional landscape of the song. Mason’s skillful execution, coupled with Gilmour’s haunting vocals and guitar solos, makes “Learning to Fly” a poignant chapter in Pink Floyd’s sonic journey and a testament to the enduring legacy of the band’s evolution.